Marshfield News-Herald
November 30, 2009

By Ashley A. Smith

Processors Bounce Back

With the closing of the gun deer season Sunday, many people will be taking their kills to local meat processors, such as Ray's Market in Colby.

"We have been open for a couple of weeks to take venison in," said Alan Gurtner, owner of Ray's Market. "Our numbers have been down a little bit because I wasn't able to take meat in all fall. We only started November 2 being able to take in venison."

Ray's Market will have a grand opening of the new Colby facility December 11 and 12 and will offer wine and cheese samples.

Gurtner said he and the other employees at Ray's Market still are getting a feel for their new equipment, and while there have been a few glitches, it has been exciting to use all new materials.

"It is huge to be able to be open for deer hunting," Gurtner said. "We make a lot of sausage for people in a year's time, so one of our goals was to have everything ready to go by deer hunting."

Ray's Market, which stood for 30 y3ars at 120 S. Front St., in Colby, burned down March 3. The new location, 3590 Elderberry Road, is larger and has more meat storage.

It is hard to estimate how much venison Ray's Market will process from this year's hunt, Gurtner said, especially because a lot of hunters have not seen many deer.

"Because of the fire, I have guys who have held it all summer long," Gurtner said. "So the meat I'm getting in now is not only from this current season, but from last season."

Gurtner estimates his business makes up to 85,000 pounds of venison sausage a year.

"It is a lot of work," Gurtner said. "But we like it; that is the only way I know how to do it. We are happy to be where we are and everyone has been very encouraging and happy that we rebuilt."

Gurtner is expecting today and the rest of this week to be the market's busiest, now that the season has ended.

Typically, they will receive up to 3,000 pounds of boneless meat in the first day after gun season ends and up to 2,000 pounds the next day, Gurtner said.

"Despite the low deer kill, there is a lot of meat here," Gurtner said. "Today will be the true test of how the season played out."